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Home News and Update Year 2010 Ethnic Link Seen in Breast Cancer

Ethnic Link Seen in Breast Cancer

Times of India
5 February 2010
Malathy Iyer

Ethnic Link
It is documented as the most difficult form of breast cancer to treat. But most worryingly, Her–2 positive – as this aggressive form of breast cancer is known – is more common among Indian women than among their western counterparts.

It is this scary susceptibility that two Indian doctors will study in great detail over the next two years. “We will study what are the risk factors among Indian women for developing Her–2 positive breast cancer,” says Dr Sudeep Gupta of Tata Memorial Hospital in Parel, who will conduct the Mumbai leg of the study.

His research partner, Dr Shona Nag from Pune’s Jehangir Hospital, says the duo will study 1,000 women who for the first time will walk into breast cancer clinics at Tata Memorial and Jehangir hospitals in the next few months. “While two–thirds will be recruited at Parel, the rest will be recruited in Pune,” she said.

These women will be put through a battery of tests to map their risk factors. One point would be to assess how much of a role their ethnicity plays in deciding the type of breast cancer.

There are three types of breast cancer – namely, hormone–positive, Her–2 positive and triple–negative. “In the West, hormone positive accounts for 60–65% of all breast cancer cases. In India, it accounts for only 40–50% of the cases,” says Nag.

The more aggressive and more difficult–to–treat types – Her–2 positive and triple–negative – account for 20% and 15% respectively in the West. Gupta says: “But in India, Her–2 positive accounts for 30% and triple–negative accounts for 25% of the cases.”

He adds: “We will try to understand if the disease pattern among our urban women is mimicking the West. We will also look at whether risk factors such as being a vegetarian or a non–vegetarian or an infection is a trigger.”

Incidentally, this study is sponsored by pharma major GSK as part of its Oncology International Ethnic Research Initiative.

A Spot Of Bother
Incidence of Cities
Why Breast Cancer Is A Huge Worry
  • According to National Cancer Registry, breast cancer has replaced cervical cancer as the leading site of cancer in all urban population–based cancer registries, except Chennai. Among Indian cities, Delhi has highest rate of breast cancer
  • Indian women get breast cancer a decade earlier than women in the West
Rising Incidence
Incidence of breast cancer is 24 in every 1,00,000 (In the US, it is 92 women per 1,00,000)

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